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Iswaran the Storyteller Character Sketch
By- R.K. Laxman
Iswaran was Mahendra’s cook and was like an asset to him. He was dedicated to his master and followed him uncomplainingly to all his postings. He would cook for him, wash his clothes, and also chat with him at night. He had the ability to improvise cooking material even at the remotest place and cooked delicious dishes in a very brief time.
Iswaran was fond of reading popular Tamil thrillers. Their imaginative descriptions and narrating styles would fascinate him. He became a master storyteller by adopting the art of storytelling from these novels. He would always add suspense and surprise even to the smallest incident and could make up innumerable stories on different subjects. While describing, he would get so involved that he would jump about on the floor. He would narrate the story in installments and would purposely leave it unfinished midway. On returning, he would not pick it up right away till Mahendra reminded him to. In this manner he would involve his listener too.
Every day, Iswaran would recount a new story filled with adventure, horror and suspense. Mahendra loved his stories and listened with rapt attention even if they were unbelievable. Iswaran thus entertained Mahendra just as TV does.
Iswaran enjoyed his job and would not sit idle when Mahendra was at work. He would use that time to tidy up the shed and wash clothes. He was also religious because he would mutter a prayer throughout his bath ritual.
This character displays a shade of comedy as well when he teasingly asks Mahendra about his reaction at having seen the female ghost.
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Mahendra used to work as a junior supervisor in a firm which offered on hire supervisors at construction sites. His work involved moving from one site to another. He was unmarried and a simple man. He was quite accommodating and adjusted well to odd conditions that he faced at different places. He was a disciplined man and would get up early in the morning. He would leave for work after breakfast and carry lunch with him.
Mahendra was very fond of his cook Iswaran whom he considered to be an asset. He relished the food cooked by him and enjoyed listening to his stories. He was a good listener and never interrupted Iswaran even when he exaggerated. He was very patient and would wait for Iswaran to return and complete the unfinished story. He was also curious as he would insist on knowing all the details.
Mahendra was a rational man and did not believe in ghosts or spirits but could not help getting influenced by what Iswaran told him about the female ghost. He tried to ignore the strange sounds at night but got scared when he saw the apparition. However, his rationality made him forget the previous night’s experience.
Mahendra’s faith in Iswaran was very strong. He was convinced about the presence of a female ghost when Iswaran told him that he had heard sounds at night.
This character appeals to the reader for his qualities as a devoted worker, a kind-hearted master and a trusting man.
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Iswaran the Storyteller Theme
The theme of the story is ‘the art of storytelling’. A good story becomes interesting only when the narrator twists and turns the action to make the narrative surprising yet plausible. Iswaran, a master of this art told gripping stories in a graphic and dramatic manner such that his listeners listened to him in rapt attention and bewilderment. Once the story of a female ghost that he recounted so terrified his master that he quit his job and left the haunted place.
Another theme is that one must not let oneself be influenced by superstitions like ghosts or spirits unless one has a faint belief in one’s own subconscious. Mahendra believed that he had seen the female ghost because his subconscious seemed to have already accepted the presence of ghosts and spirits.
Iswaran the Storyteller Theme (2) :
Nobody is free from fears. Everybody accepts the presence of ghosts and spirits but feels hesitant to express this truth openly. If fear lies in our heart, we should try to know the proper cause of this fear. In fear, we may take some wrong decisions and put our lives into problems. Therefore, we have to be bold enough to make good decisions in all circumstances.